Recent research has begun to track down genetic and environmental factors that increase our risk of developing a wide range of chronic disorders, from heart disease and diabetes to autism and schizophrenia. Risk factors include environments that we can each take control of, but also those over which we have zero control. We know that we are most vulnerable in our first one thousand days, making our first few years vital to ensuring a long and healthy life.
This forum will address the policy implications of new fields like epigenetics and microbiomics. Emerging evidence from these fields suggests a wide range of interventions are needed to support individuals and governments to maximise our health. Detecting and tracking the effects of the environment through biomarkers and biomonitoring offer great advantages (e.g. disease prediction, diagnosis, intervention and tracking) but also pose risks (e.g. stigmatisation, higher insurance premiums). The looming possibilities for gene editing similarly offer enormous potential benefits but also increased risks.